It’s the start of a new term and for many that means getting back to work after a summer of juggling children, work and hopefully a lovely holiday somewhere warm! September seems to bring with it a new level of focus and enthusiasm to everyone in the workplace whether they have children going back to school or not.
With the final quarter looming it’s time to knuckle down and to kick off some new projects. The summer break is a time to refresh your approach and way of working and to come up with some new innovative ways of working smarter.
However, here at Next Call, whilst we are always looking at new ways of working more effectively we also have a tried and tested methodology which we put in place for all of our projects.
Our Campaign Methodology covers all the different stages of the campaign lifecycle and encompasses our systematic proven approach. There are five key stages of the Next Call Campaign Methodology:
Based on our experience and the successful implementation of a variety of campaigns, we work to a timeline and approach that has been proven at all stages of a campaign whether that be an event, breakfast briefing, executive dinner, prospect development, nurture program or a 'land and expand' into key accounts to develop.
In this blog we are going to examine how we Define each of our projects.
During the defining stage we do something called ‘Agree and Prepare’, this allows us to fully prepare for the project in hand and to gain as much background information as possible to ensure a successful outcome, and to fully understand and set expectations for both the client and ourselves.
During this phase we would:
Spend time working with the customer to understand what the activity is, what they are aiming to achieve for example; event fulfilment, generating new business opportunities, creating interest for pipeline development, profiling and sourcing key decision makers for marketing initiatives, or setting up face to face meetings, etc.
We will discuss objectives, agreeing what is achievable over an agreed timeframe, and including regular check points along the way to adjust and review the approach. This is all part of our ‘working together’ approach ensuring we are fully aligned at all stages with the expected outcomes.
Next we cover the proposition and messaging; also known as the ‘so what’ part of the brief; for example what's good about your solution or product, why is it different, what makes it stand out? Here we will work out what are the USPs associated with the particular solution or product, what the compelling message will be that we will take to the target audience, what are the hooks we can use, any relevant industry sector case or customer examples to use, and finally what the call to action will be.
From what we’ve discovered so far we can then set to work on building the right team and matching key skills to the specific customer needs and to the project overall. At all times working with the customer to develop and present a clear brief to team, and that brief evolves over time ensuring nothing about the project goes stale.
A very important area is the setting of expectations; what is achievable, what has been achieved before, and also analysing what didn’t work well previously. Working as a team, we strive to make sure we create and develop a clear message and, ultimately, the end result. In some instances, we find that we’re able to re-use a message and approach that has worked well previously to enable the best set of results for the campaign. However, if that doesn’t get the traction we are expecting, we will share the experience within the team and with the customer to enable any adjustments to be made to make things work.
An often overlooked element of the preparation stage is the expected outcomes; understanding what would be the ideal end result of a call. This can of course vary over time during the campaign particularly if it has been broken down into different stages, for example; profiling, sourcing, developing, engaging, deep-dive calling for decision maker conversations. Typically, the outcome is based on the campaign type, whether that be getting attendees to an event, signing up for a conference call, joining a webinar, or booking a face to face meeting with an agreed agenda.
One of the most crucial areas and can even make or break a campaign is having access to good data and the right target contacts. Targeting the right contacts and decision makers with a clear and compelling message is the key to any campaign. The data may be sourced externally or come from existing or purchased data, or data that is developed by us for the client. Not only does the data need to be of high quality but it’s essential that we understand and agree with our clients who their ideal decision maker or influencers are and to make sure that these are the ones that are included in the data that we are to use for the project.
The next stage on our list is setting the time frame which will invariably vary per campaign depending on the type of project. However, there are guidelines we typically use if there is a specific event; e.g. a breakfast briefing, dinner, workshop or user group. We set a timeframe that provides us with enough time to prepare and effectively execute the proposition to the target audience. An example might be for events, when diaries are typically tight for executives and we want to be able to give them enough time ahead of the event to schedule it in. We would normally allow six weeks ahead of an event but this can vary depending on the event itself and whether it is being held during the day or evening. Whatever the situation we always work out the best approach based on our past experience.
As important as preparation is reporting: Providing feedback and capturing intelligence throughout each stage of the campaign to provide regular feedback to key management and account managers, sales teams or marketing is key to measuring the success of a campaign. This also allows us to build on our experience and provides valuable knowledge for ongoing and new projects.
An often-overlooked element of the preparation stage is the r an agreed timeframe, and including regular checkpoints along the way to adjust and review the approach. This is all part of our ‘working together’ approach ensuring we are fully aligned at all stages with the expected outcomes. or setting up face to face meetings, etc.
Defining the approach to any campaign can seem like a lengthy and complex process, but it is essential to ensure we are fully utilising our time once the project begins and therefore producing the very best results possible.
Once the project begins we begin to Measure, and that is Stage 2 of our methodology and will be the subject of our next blog.